Trying to get your baby to sleep during the night can be one of the most frustrating
things about parenting. It was for me at one stage. At five months old Lincoln started to wake up every 2 hours during the night, expecting to be fed. Before that he slept just fine.
It got to the point where I would fall asleep while feeding him and then have broken sleep after he went back down because I would wake up thinking I had left the baby in the bed and rolled on top of him.
After this went on for 6 weeks or so I decided to get help. I was doing okay, I just needed to sleep! My personality was starting
to change too. My mind and body were getting so use to the lack of sleep that they must’ve started to produce an over-kill of ‘stay awake and be happy’ hormones. I was far too cheerful and far too energetic during the day given my current situation. So I went on to book an appointment with one of Plunket’s sleep therapists. I should have been a crying, overly-emotional mother while explaining to the therapist my baby’s present sleeping routine, instead I was finding it all very amusing that I hadn’t slept for 6 weeks (that’s 42 nights in total- I don’t know how I survived).
This Plunket nurse was the best thing that ever happened to me as a new mother. She was old school, very old herself too, and told me to forget all the other rubbish that I had heard about getting babies to sleep. Her ‘Mother-Out-Of-Service’ method was tried and tested…it wasn’t in line with what Plunket usually recommended but it absolutely worked. Hallelujah! I could be normal again one day.
So I’d like to share what she told me. I’m not guaranteeing that this will work for everyone, and this method does need to be
applied with a determined attitude, but if you are desperate give it a try:
1. Everyone in the house should expect to get broken sleep for 3 nights, especially you- not hard if you’re already doing it though! Only do this when you’re ready and have set your mind to it.
2. When your baby first cries go and check that they are safe and okay. Don’t feed them and don’t look them in the eye. Turn them on their side facing away from you and pat their back until they calm down or stop crying.
3. The tricky part is to then tuck them in and leave the room. Remember not to look at them. They’ll think that they’ve won if you do and it will make things all the more harder.
4. You can be 100% sure that they’ll start crying again. Let them cry and don’t go back into the room until they stop. I remember Lincoln cried for 2 hours straight when I first did this. It was hard but he got the message- I wasn’t coming back in to feed him or cuddle him. The Mother was out of service.
5. The only reason you should go back in the room is if you think their safety is in jeopardy. You can listen on your baby monitor or stand by the door to listen in, just don’t let them know that you’re there and can hear them.
6. Once they go back to sleep you can sleep for a bit. They will wake up again but just follow the routine above each time. They’ll be so exhausted by 3am that you may just get a good 3 or 4 hours of sleep after that.
7. Continue this routine until they learn to sleep. It will take about 3 nights for baby to learn that this is how it’s going to be from now on and that they need to be sleeping.
This method can work for babies who can't soothe themselves to sleep too. You can start up this routine again every time they fall out of it. I’d recommend that you don’t even attempt to do this if they are sick or away from home for the night as I doubt that it will work. Another word of warning: don't start with this routine and then give up on it the next night. Stick to it until they are sleeping through the night otherwise your baby will make it harder on you the next time you try it.
Good luck and let me know how you go!